French Government Competes With the Far Right in Harming Muslims
The French government’s positions and practices are rapidly drifting towards the extreme right, even though its first official, President Emmanuel Macron, grew up and made a name for himself within the left-wing movement, which is not hostile to immigrants but instead defends them in many cases.
In a questionable situation, the French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin attacked what he called “Sunni Islam” and described it as terrorism, in the most serious slip from a senior official at the level of a prominent minister in Elisabeth Borne’s government, during his visit to the United States of America, but not only that, as he was trying to incite the American administration against Muslims.
“We have come to remind them that for the Europeans and France, the primary risk is Sunni Islamist terrorism and that anti-terrorist cooperation between the intelligence services is essential”, Darmanin said during an interview in New York, adding; “at a time when the Americans maybe have a more domestic vision of challenges – white supremacy, repeated shootings, conspiracy – they must not forget what appears to us in Europe as the first threat: Sunni terrorism.”
Before the French official made this dangerous statement, France witnessed a resounding scandal, which also targeted Islam and Muslims in this country, during the blessed Eid al-Fitr, a scandal that was recently revealed by the newspapers “Le Monde” and “La Dépêche du Midi”. This scandal was represented in the fact that the managers of some schools received instructions aimed at seizing a list of pupils who were absent during the last Eid al-Fitr, as an indication that they are Muslims, which was recorded in both “Hérault” and “Haute-Garonne”.
The first instruction was dated April 26, 2023, and its source came from the police prefecture in Toulouse, in southern France, and it aims to know the percentage of absentees on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. The source of this request was the Intelligence Services, and this action came after the publication of an article in the right-wing newspaper “Le Figaro”, published on April 24 which talked about the increase in the rate of absentees among pupils during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
As for the second instruction, it was dated May 11, 2023, when the managers of secondary schools and colleges in the Montpellier region in the southwest received a similar request signed by the Director of Education Services, which is to conduct a census of absences recorded during Eid Al-Fitr and assess the impact of these absences on pupils’ results.
The instruction signed on May 11 was cancelled the next day by the director of education in the department of “Hérault” (Montpellier). Nevertheless, these directives or decisions raised several questions and concerns in French school circles, due to the interference of intelligence services in educational affairs in France using an identity background, which contradicts the secularism of the state, which is approved by the laws in force.
The issue did not pass without leaving restlessness in the education sector, as the education unions and syndicates hastened to express their anger, due to the infiltration of private services and interests in the sector for purposes targeting those who profess Islam, according to what was stated in the newspaper “La Dépêche du Midi”.
Because of the seriousness of what happened, the French Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye, who is of Senegalese origin, was quick to express his rejection of these practices, and defended the right of pupils to celebrate religious holidays “regardless of their religion,” noting that the laws in force affirm the right of Muslim pupils to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays.
This is happening at a time when the French right wing, represented by the party of the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the “Republicans”, decided to unveil a draft law proposal related to immigration, which will be submitted to parliament, which includes more restrictions on immigrants, the majority of whom are Muslims.